Monday, December 14, 2015

Hour of Code Reflection

With our 3rd annual Hour of Code complete I must admit the event becomes more powerful with time.  We had over 50 students sign up to attend the event and about 10 student facilitators to coordinate the hour.  The facilitators consisted of members of the technology club, student library aides, and iSchool advocates.  It was agreed that the facilitators would concentrate on introducing the the Star Wars and Minecraft courses.  The hour went by rapidly resulting in some creative after thoughts from students.


What Worked:
  1. The student-led event was amazing with 10 student facilitators to help as students needed assistance.  Coders would raise their hands and a facilitator responded immediately.   This eliminated frustration from coders and gave the facilitators ownership for the event.
  2. Having the students sign-up before the event allowed me to enroll them in the class.  Students will then have the option to continue the courses after the event.  
  3. The event concluded with a feedback session.  It was plans were discussed to continue interest in coding beyond the Hour of Code. 
  1. The student facilitators have volunteered to attend the Minecraft club and introduce the Minecraft coding course at our next club meeting.
  2. A 6th grade group of students have met beyond the Hour of Code and want to start a 6th grade lunch coding club.  Students have plans to find a student leadership committee to launch the 6th grade lunch event.
The many resources made our Hour of Code an enjoyable and manageable event for students interested in coding.  I hope to continue to host coders during lunch, in our technology club, and beyond. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hour of Code

As we prepare for our Hour of Code, I am so proud that my student Technology Club is taking the lead in facilitating the event.  I have students who have prepared by finishing both the Star Wars and Mind Craft courses on the site.  I look forward to an awesome hour of coding.

Creating a Culture for Readers

As librarians we spend countless hours trying to think about programming to help integrate a quality literacy program into our schools.  We share ideas in PLCs, participate in Twitter chats, attend conferences, and go beyond the horizon to seek out the magic of enticing the school community to become life-long readers.  So when something as simple as obtaining new cafe tables from a PTA grant surprised me as one simple solution I had to share.

The very day that the tables were assembled and brought into the library students flocked to quietly sit and read.  An 8th grade lunch group began to grow and assemble.  Once I realized these new three tablets were a magnet I went in as the "Super Librarian".  Yes, I approached the students at the table with greetings, discussions about books, and built on the relationships.

Now I'm not saying these three tables will magically entice our students to read.  I am saying look at something as easy as new furniture, hosting clubs, opening for lunches or before school, to help build the trust and relationships that will be the foundation for creating a culture of readers. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Students Creating a Culture for Reading

Times have changed in the library since by first position in 1989. I began in a middle school of about 1,400 students with two paraprofessionals.  It was easy to manage the many tasks with the awesome adult help.  Now I find myself as the lone adult staff member in the library so how do I manage? I tap into the creativity of 20 incredible student library aides.

Right before Thanksgiving break I pulled out our holiday and winter decorations and stepped back giving my students full access to creating a culture for readers.  I am always amazed with their enthusiasm, willingness to participate, and creativity.

Part 2 in the process was to create some digital images of their hard work.  A few students confidently took pictures of the library with one student creating a flipagram.  Most of the pictures can be viewed in our Instagram account.

We have received so many compliments and students love the change in our library with the change in the seasons.  How does one create a culture for reading?  Ask for your students to help.

Planning the Hour of Code

It's been exciting to watch students get excited in planning a student driven Hour of Code. They chose to facilitate the Star Wars and Mind Craft lessons from

As students sign up to participate, I have entered them into an Hour of Code class on the website.  Our goal is to entice students to continue the coding courses even after the event concludes.  This will provide feedback for both the student facilitators and myself if the event was successful. 

If you have not planned an event during the week of December 7-11 you can always start a coding group and follow the lessons at your own pace. 


Friday, October 30, 2015

Creating a Culture for Reading

 There are so many ideas shared in the educational community on how to create a reading culture within the schools.  The ideas are unlimited but we need to take into consideration what is best for our patrons.  As a middle school librarian I feel we have established a positive pathway for life-long readers and here are a few of our techniques.
  • Our library has a high interest hardback and eBook collections
  • Students are invited to participate in a school-wide reading incentive program
  • Faculty members display logs of what they have read outside their classroom or office
  • Students regularly visit the library with their ELA classes
  • The library is open before school, during lunch, and after school to students
  • The school sponsors a virtual summer reading reading program
  • Frequent book talks and book trailers are presented to classes
  • Librarian collaboration with district programming
  • District book competition
  • School-wide DEAR time
  • Literacy and book commercials on the student video news program
  • The use of social media (school Facebook and Twitter accounts)
  • Posting reading pictures to the library Instagram account
  • Student driven book clubs 
  • Student driven library program
  • Collaboration with the PTA
Sometimes the small incentives can surprise you the most.  On the way to work one day I decided to purchase candy as a surprise to anyone who checked out a hardback or eBook the week leading up to Halloween.  This small act was overwhelming with almost everyone checking out books during this festive week.  Some may interpret this as a bribe but in the long run if 1 piece of candy motivated a  student to read than I am convinced we do what it takes to accomplish our goals. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dare to Read!

I love to share paranormal, supernatural, and horror books with my students and faculty this time of year. I also found the audio of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark on youtube. I designed a new Dare to Read thinglink for 7th and 8th graders but I can use last year's Dare to Read with 6th graders. It was extremely easy to modify the original graphic in canva to produce a new presentation this year. What a time saver! Here's to the Dare to Read campaign at our middle school this week.

Last year's presentation was easy to tweak for some new titles.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Teen Read Week 2015 in Review

Teen Read Week 2015 was a successful adventure in our library program. Here's a tackk filled with visuals from the festivities during the week.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Can You Say eBook Success?

It was during the awesome #TXLChat on eBooks that I was inspired to reflect on our community's eBook successes.  I've been able to attribute our thriving usage to 4 basic reasons.

#1 - Librarian "BUY IN!" Get excited about your eBooks!!!
  •  You must be excited in order to generate an enthusiastic environment for eBook usage.  I hear many say I prefer books rather than eBooks.  DO NOT say this in front of your students and faculty.  You are condemning your eBooks usage before you begin.
  • Model by using your eBooks.  Start a conversation by saying, "I just read an awesome eBook that I think you would love."
#2 - Look at your eBook collection.  Are the titles INVITING?
  • An eBook collection is much like a hardback book collection.   If it's old and musty no one will read them.  If you don't have cool high interest eBooks no one will access them.
  •  Take time and input with your eBook selection and collection development.  
  • Take advantage of programs such as implementing a district collection to give your patrons a much larger choice.  We have an option with Follett that allows our school's to share eContent taking our school's collection from 100 eBooks to almost 1,400 eBooks in just 3 years.  
#3 - It's all about MARKETING.
  • I mention eBooks in every part of the library program. 
  • Have signs placed around the library and school with eBook access directions.
  • Design an eBook information bookmark.
  • Make visuals that can be used on social media, the website, or teacher moodle pages with eBook information.
  • Demonstrate!
  • Host an eBook book talk day such as I did with this thinglink. 
  • Send out eBook access directions via email before any reading event such as DEAR Day.  
#4 - Follow through with your statistics.  Give eBook "SHOUT OUTS!
  • Include eBook data in annual reports, parent newsletters, when sending out information to the faculty, and more.
  • Share your successes in PLCs, faculty meetings, Twitter chats, or any venue.
In my opinion our eContent is here to stay with yet another changing role as a librarian.  I have embraced the usage of eBooks enthusiastically and will continue to promote and market their usage to give our community a choice.  It allows usage of our collection beyond the library walls and beyond our school hours.  The success of eBooks in your community is at your finger tips.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teen Read Week 2015

As one of my favorite celebrations, Teen Read Week is always at the top of the list in promoting literacy with both faculty and students. The American Library Association and yalsa has done an excellent job as far as providing ready-made ideas and promotional items.

This year we will again participate in the Book Cover Selfies and Kahoot Day.  My student aides will provide a cart of books that may be used for the selfie campaign and the pictures will be added to our library Instagram account. A Google document was started and shared for Kahoot questions.  Students will market and facilitate Kahoot Day during lunch.

I challenge everyone to participate in Teen Read Week activities and share your programs and successes!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Into Library Marketing

Marketing is the key to any successful library program so why not encourage your students to take a role in the process?  It has taken me a few years to learn to step back but and let the crucial student voice be heard.  I no longer refer to them as student aides to the rest of the school but I now introduce them as library staff members.  It's interesting how terminology can change one's frame of mind.  We have set our four goals as a district but my staff (me and the student library aides) and I try to integrate them into our school library programming.  Here are some cool collaborative marketing tools and displays designed for our Fall campaign via student voice.

In order to promote literacy in a variety of formats we will try and incorporate the promotion of our eContent whenever possible.  This was done in canva, printed out as a jpeg, framed, and placed on numerous counter tops.  My plans are to show students canva so they may make their own designs for their ePortfolios or blogs.

We took this project one step further and uploaded the jpeg into thinglink and added book trailers.  When classes came into the library to check out books we promoted our eBook via book trailers for this project.  It turned out to be a very successful James Dasher day with every item written by this author checked out!

The easiest type of display is to group some books, design a title, and give it some recognition. This was perfect for the American Chillers and Darren Shan books for this time of year.

We also have most of Darren Shan's books in eBooks so not only were we promoting this collection but also eContent use.

We bought these frames from Ikea and use them for almost every occasion. We save the wording so that they may be used for another year.  This makes it easier to concentrate on designing new flyers instead of redesigning the entire library for every season.
Of course the outside displays are very important. Is it welcoming?  Does it say, "Come in!"Although ours is very small, we try to be creative with colors, book promotion, and appealing design.

We can't forget the awesome posters that can be purchased.  We use large plexiglass poster holders to display since we are limited with wall and bulletin board space.

When I stepped away from the book display and leftover October items this is what my students designed.  They are creative with the few resources but they also take ownership of restocking the books and making sure the pumpkin is illuminated each day.

I would have to conclude that fall is one of my favorite time of year and I try and use display items that will take us through to Thanksgiving.  Scarecrows, colorful leaves, and catchy slogans help.  I take out the Halloween pumpkins and insert turkeys and Thanksgiving posters for November.  The same is done in December with snowflakes, snowmen, and penguins.  With some modifications much of it can stay up for January.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

How's Your Welcome Mat?

I was inspired by a question on our latest #TXLChat about how welcoming the library is for those looking in.  It made me take a look at our library entrances and I asked myself, "Would I want to enter this library?"  That being said, I challenge everyone to do the same.  Does your library scream, "Come in!"  If not, what can you do as an advocate to get more faculty and students to open the library doors?   So go ahead and enter the library and critique its friendliness or better yet ask your students what can be changed to make the library entrance more inviting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Infographics and Social Media

Here's two of my favorite topics for the library that I thought I would share with my PLN.  I presented both topics this summer in  professional development for other educators.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Infographics Presentation

As I'm contemplating goals for the 2015-2016 school year I am excited to include the use of infographics on my list.  After presenting this topic with my dear friend Naomi Bates, I am finding a new passion for a not so new concept.  My best advice to others is to try one new concept a year and build on a foundation from one year to the next.  Here's our presentation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge - Join In!

Last summer I participated in the Summer ThingLink Teacher Challenge and it changed my approach in presenting, curating, teaching, and even my PLN (Personal Learning Network).  I am very excited to share with everyone that the amazing Susan Oxnevad is offering a 2nd ThingLink Teacher Challenge this summer.  It may be the best virtual professional development of the summer.

Here's an introduction and schedule from the ThingLink blog.

About the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge

The ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge is a free, self-paced, online professional development opportunity designed to help teachers explore the powerful possibilities of using ThingLink for teaching and learning. This 5 week challenge invites teachers to have fun learning to use interactive images, slideshow channels and interactive video to power up your pedagogy and redefine learning in the classroom.
Throughout the challenge, we will use the ThingLink flexible suite of interactive tools for schools to create media rich, customized resources for use in your classroom. The weekly challenge activities are designed to be beneficial to educators who are new to ThingLink and also to experienced users. We will explore all the flexible features of ThingLink and discover the tremendous potential for using this amazing tool. Here are 3 reasons to take the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge.

ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge at a Glance

  • Week 1: Design Your Digital SelfGet started with ThingLink, a very useful activity to get you and your students started
  • Week 2: Curate Incredible ContentDiscover, collect, reuse and remix the work of others.
  • Week 3: Explore ThingLink UnPluggedExplore learning on the go with a mobile device without wireless access.
  • Week 4:  Design an Interactive Collaborative Student Project Learn to combine ThingLink with the power of Google Docs to create engaging learning experiences.
  • Week 5: Flip It with ThingLink for VideoLearn to create interactive video and include it in a slideshow channel.
Week 1 will begin on June 28th. Entries will be accepted until mid August.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Top 10 Book List 2014-2015

It's our Top 10 List and Legend by Marie Lu has been our #1 book for 3 years in a row.  Could it possibly be the awesome Skype session we had with Marie last October?  Maybe but it's the first year that we haven't seen any books by Stephanie Meyers.  I'm really excited to see The Testing as our #2 book on the list.  The Maze Runner actually won the vote during our March Madness program. I designed the original poster in canva and will print it out for a library display.  I can't wait to see what awesome YA books make it on our next Top 10 list next year. I must thank my student aides for sharing a Google document with me and finding all the book trailers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Never Too Old for Something New

I began my educational career in 1980 and as a veteran educator I am often confronted with statements like this, "They are just too old for change." Or, "They need to retire." Change has no age limit but rather has a specific mind set. When I hear these comments I readily defend the troops who have seen a tremendous amount of change from chalk boards to present day devices and tools. There are many of us who embrace change and are open to new adventures in education. On the flip side, I expect that younger educators should know basic computer and software skills and on many occasions I am amazed at the lack of knowledge in both areas. Another comment I often hear is, "You are the librarian and it's your job to know all this stuff." I disagree with that statement. I am an educator, I am always ready to learn, I am in control of my professional development, and I choose to keep up with the times. I love to reply with, "How effective would I be as an educator if I was still teaching like I was in 1980?" Embrace a passion to learn no matter how many years you have been an educator. I find this video extremely inspiring and although I'm not sure I can accomplish a head stand, I know I can embrace new challenges.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Annual Report Time - don't stress it!

It's the time of year when I gather tee library information and data to produce an annual report.  I must confess that's it's probably done more for my benefit than for anyone else.  I look at classes served, books circulated, programming and more to reflect on the good, bad, and the ugly.  Let's face it folks, all programs can use some tweaking and fresh ideas.  In the past I spent hours designing graphs, writing summaries of programs, and collated the report into a nice cool binder.  After hours of work I watched my principal, from a few year back, take about a 30 second gander.  I spent 2 days writing this report and he gave it 30 seconds.  At that point I decided to change up my report style and as you can see from my latest creation I turned it into an interactive infographic.  I used one one of the new templates in canva and imported the graphic into thinglink.  At that point all I had to do was link everything up.

As a quick and easy report I sent the link to my principal.  I would also suggest to many to have a face-to-face meeting to cultivate the relationship.  The key to a successful library program is all in the relationships. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Success With the Best!

I've already blogged about our Let's Move It! @ Pike program but in conclusion I wanted to share my reflective "take-a-ways" from the campaign.  It all began with a collaboration between the library staff (including my student aides), our school nurse, and our amazing PTA. Together we wanted to bring forth the importance of a healthy life style including exercise.  Tools such as, Google Form, and Google Slides were selected as the platform to launch and archive the entire program. The online flyer had roughly 700 views which in itself a testament of the program's success.  The amazing outcome is that 21 faculty members (roughly 1/3 of our staff) logged in 3,456.532 miles in the last 6 weeks of school. Through a PTA grant, all participants received a gift card that was given out during our last faculty meeting of the year.

  • This was a truly successful collaborative program.
  • I connected with the Physical Education department!  Yes, after many years of pondering how to connect with one of the most difficult departments it blindsided me when it just happened.  
  • The other large group I connected with was our paraprofessionals.  I learned through this eager and amazing group that they too want to belong and participate in our school programming so make sure you have this group on your radar. They are extremely important and influential in your school's dynamics.
  • A group of educators started meeting 30 minutes before school to walk as a group.  WOW, I didn't orchestrate this group and was so proud they took the initiative. 
  • Students started asking faculty members about their miles.  Yes, they became interested and were amazed at how many miles were logged into the Google Form.
  • I had teachers approach me for the 1st time asking me questions about their Google account! 
  • The tackk used generated interest in a new platform tool for some.
  • Our PTA "rocked" and gave us a grant to purchase amazing gift cards for everyone who participated. 
  • My student aides produced signs for the doors of all participants. It was a visual for the entire community to see.
  • Social media and marketing generated interest from outside our building. 
  • Staff members were extremely complimentary with positive feedback about the library and our programming.  Folks if you haven't figured it out yet let me inform you it's all about relationships. 
As the nurse and I stood on stage giving out the awards we agreed this was one idea that needed to be repeated.  Our next incentive will include challenging another school in our district.  It was visibly evident some faculty had lost weight and were making better life-style choices by the end of the program and that to me was SUCCESS!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Reading Video

I love using videos to help promote our summer reading program.  This will be the perfect fit for us this summer!

It's Inventory Time or Is It Time Wasted?

In a recent district library meeting I was asked why do I think inventory is important.  That really made me ponder the process and why was I so adamant in making sure I had completed an inventory for the past 25 years.  

Yes, when I began the process I had 2 paraprofessionals in a school of 1400 students and we pulled out the shelf list cards and meticulously called out each and every card one by one. It took a tedious 2 weeks to complete the task with 3 full- time library staff members.  Fast forward to a very different time with only myself as an official library staff member, I am asking myself is inventory necessary? I have read articles from some well respected members in my PLN that claim it’s a waste of time. I also listened to both sides in the library meeting with the conclusion we must all do what is right for our library program and school.

With that being said here are my top reasons for why I still take the time to complete the inventory process.  I want to note that every district, except for my present district, has required an annual inventory. I do not wait until the end of the year to complete the process because it’s just too busy with the year end’s demands.  In our library program I have turned the circulation desk and shelving responsibilities completely over to my student aides. I also have released the inventory process over to the students. So here is my list.

  1. Since the students are 100% responsible for shelving, the inventory process helps with areas that have not been shelved properly.
  2. It also helps with the frustration of marking missing books lost.  It’s time consuming for students to constanting continue to look for the same missing books.  If they are missing, get them marked as lost, and reorder the books.
  3. It’s a fantastic PBL (Project Based Learning) project for the students.  All 18 of my students must work together in completing the task.  They must communicate with others even when they don’t have class together.  This is an phenomenal group project on organizational skills.
  4. If we are going to charge students to replace lost books, I want to make sure the books are not on the shelves.  It’s a huge accountability issue on my part.  There is nothing more embarrassing than emailing a parent about a lost library book only to find out it’s on the shelf.  
  5. Although weeding is a beast of its own, it allows us to look at books that are falling apart, musty, or needs replacing.  I do not intentionally weed during inventory but some books just cannot be overlooked for the weeding pile.
  6. Inventory gives ownership to the students.  I have witnessed student volunteers helping along with my student library aides.  A student driven library program is a successful program.
  7. This gave my students the opportunity to run reports, analyze data, and complete reports

I want to make it quite clear that this is a decision and process that works for our library program and in no way am I advocating that everyone MUST complete an inventory. We begin the task around Spring Break scanning sections as time allows.  We complete inventory with our fiction section just after all books are due.  In essence, my advice is to adhere to what works best for your library program.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Reading in the Planning

As I plan for our summer reading incentive program I decided what better format than a  I am able to easily modifying, embed, link, and use it on social media.  So, here's the beginnings of our Summer Reading program.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thanks TASL!

I had the honor of receiving the MVP Award from the Texas Association of School Librarians during the TLA convention in Austin for my blog.  It was amazing to know that I was about to share this event and honor with my #TXLChat friends since Nancy Jo Lambert and the entire chat moderators were the runner ups.  I am proud to be a member of this group and have learned so much from each and every chat.  Please join #TXLChat on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 CST to learn, share, and collaborate with some amazing Texas librarians.

Shown in the picture from left to right is: Shawna Ford, Nancy Jo Lambert, Becky Calzada, Sue Fitzgerald, Jan Hodge, Sharon Gullett, and Sonja Schulz. Missing from the photo is: Neil Krasnoff, Michelle Cooper, Marsha Edney, and Sandra Carswell.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Let's Move It!

Who said that library programs need to be ALL about the library? In our latest adventure the nurse, PTA, and library staff collaborated on a healthy competition for staff after STAAR testing to get everyone ready for their summer vacation. We pulled out our fitbits, odometers, and apps and will start to actively walk, jog, skip, Zumba, or participate in any activity with forward movement for the last 6 weeks of school. All participants will record their steps and convert them into miles in a weekly Google form. Our nurse will add weekly tips to the online flyer while the PTA will provide the prizes for the top three staff who walks the farthest. The library staff will keep track of the data and post incentive badges on the doors of those participating. This activity will feed right into the school-wide PTA Fun Run with students observing the friendly competition. The most exciting part of the PTA Fun Run is that all proceeds are going directly into helping the library purchase furniture to make it comfortable and relaxing for students and staff.

Collaboration can be achieved through many venues in our schools. As librarians, sometimes we need to think outside the box and outside our walls with programming. With the stigma that some still think we sit behind the desk and read all day, we have the responsibility to demonstrate our presence in our school communities. Since this is the beginning of the program, I have high expectations that it is successful with many participants. The exciting part of any program is the unexpected. I will follow-up at the end and share the outcome.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's Another Awesome Thank You.

As a librarian many times we have that lonely feeling in our positions.  We eagerly work with everyone in the school and community.  We are experts in so many fields that it's difficult to make a list.  We are often the go-to person that our students, faculty, and administrators depend on for so many tasks.  With that in mind it warms me to no end that my staff treated me to lunch and a beautiful bouquet for National Librarian Day 2015.  I graciously thanked them and hope they truly understand this simple action is so appreciated.  So I say to all librarians keep up the awesome job and have a great National Librarian Day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Libraries in the Internet Age

Just another inspiring video that came through my PLN that I felt I needed to share. Is your library changing with the times?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Little Prince Book Trailer

On my 18th birthday my beloved older sister gave me an amazing book titled The Little Prince. This book has held a special spot in my heart for many years.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bruno Mars Uptown Fun: Unread Book

As I was browsing through my Twitter feed tonight I came across this tweet from my dear friend Naomi Bates (@yabooksandnore). I just had to share this with my friends.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lone Star Reading List 2015-2016 Virtual Style

It's another Lone Star Reading list virtual poster.  This visual entices many of my students and faculty to discuss and seek out the titles on this awesome list.  By using thinglink it allows me to easily embed or share the link. I am so grateful to those who are on the committee and devote countless hours to compile the incredible titles on this list.  It makes promotion of these books a breeze.  Please use or share the poster.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Winner of Our Literary March Madness

We have a winner for our Literary March Madness and I must say this has been an awesome collaborative project with participation from all our middle schools in the district. I foresee this as an annual program that has brought many students and faculty together to talk about literature. Now we are onto Poetry Month.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Literary March Madness Championship Round

It's been interesting to see the discussion and voting and now we are down to the Championship Round.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Literary March Madness - Round 3

We are in the Final 4 for our Literary March Madness.  The voting has been high and predictions for the winner is  abundant.  With a large group of 8th grade girls I overheard the discussion this morning on their criteria for voting.  It all comes down to the hottest male character in the movie.  I share this with their permission.  Here's our Final 4 Round.

It is with great anticipation that we continue to vote for our final book.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


First, I must begin by saying that I have learned so much in my ThingLink community and I wanted to share this amazing opportunity with my PLN. I am pleased to welcome my dear friend Susan Oxenvad with her ThingLink wisdom.

Today ThingLink is pleased to announce verified accounts for school districts along with the release of an updated iOS app that is well suited for educational use, making ThingLink EDU better than ever for teaching and learning!  

Benefits of Verified District Accounts

A verified organization on ThingLink EDU serves three goals. First, verification is used to establish authenticity of an organization. Once this is done, the organization gets an invitation code that can be used to easily invite staff and students to ThingLink EDU. A verified organization account will be equipped with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups. Third, a verified organization account gives schools and districts easy access to all of the ThingLink resources created by teachers and students across the district. These features make it easier than ever for teachers and students to create, share and curate multimedia rich content with ThingLink.

ThingLink iOS app Updated for Educational Use

More great news! The ThingLink iOS app has been updated with education in mind. When browsing for existing ThingLink content, students can only see images created by other teachers and students. Safe-search has been enabled to provide students with age appropriate content when searching for media to annotate images. The updated version of the app now includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes, making it easy to manage students and engage them on mobile devices like never before.  Explore this slideshow channel of interactive image to learn how ThingLink can be used on a fieldtrip on a mobile device without wireless. Be sure to click the arrow to advance to the next image to see how students can extend the learning at school and at home, using whatever device is handy at the moment.

About ThingLink for Education

Over the course of this past year, ThingLink has become one of the the most popular free web tools for educators. The ThingLink app has become the most popular mobile app for creating interactive images in school or on field trips with or without wireless access. There are truly endless possibilities for using ThingLink in education.
Teachers can create media rich visual resources packed with content to engage students in deep learning experiences. Students can create a ThingLink to present knowledge and ideas or to document learning. A shared "Steam" enables students and teachers to collaborate on images beyond the classroom walls. Interactive images can be embedded on websites or shared with the class and accessed by inquisitive students at any time.
Explore this guided, student driven learning project ,powered by ThingLink and Google Apps, to view the possibilities that exist for teaching and learning with ThingLink EDU.

ThingLink Keeps Getting Better

As an early adopter of ThingLink I immediately fell in love with the tool because of the flexible options for creating rich media images for teaching and learning. I recognized the potential for using ThingLink to create differentiated resources to support all learners and I loved the fact that I could pack a lot of content into one image. At that time, the only icon available for adding tags was one black circle, the only embeddable media I knew of was YouTube, and there were no special features for education. Since then, ThingLink has come a long way.

Over the course of the past year, ThingLink has introduced a full-featured education platform with a designated classroom workspace for teachers and their students. Here are just some of the features:
  • Signup has become simpler with the addition of the Google Appls for Education login
  • Teachers have the ability to create accounts for students without email. 
  • District and teacher level management provide teachers with the tools to efficiently manage the ThingLink Classroom.
  • Students and teachers can now create slideshow channels of related interactive images to share work, curate content or maintain interactive learning portfolios. 
  • The original black icon is now one of many colorful icons that include several icons designed for education. 
  • Teachers with premium accounts have the ability to create their own custom icon sets!
  • The app for iOS and Androidmakes it easier than ever to use ThingLink on a mobile device, with or without wireless.
  • ThingLink for Video provides teachers and students with the ability to annotate a video and turn it into a personalized, interactive learning tool.

Learn More About the ThingLink Classroom

Request a Verified Status for Your Organization?

ThingLink has the ability to transform teaching and learning, so grab your verified district account, add the updated iOS app and embrace this amazing EDU tool! 
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About the Author

Susan Oxnevad is the ThingLink Education Community Manager, as well as an instructional technology coach in an elementary school district outside of Chicago who is passionate about using technology as a tool for learning. Susan provides professional development for busy teachers via a variety of online and in-person opportunities. Susan blogs about thoughtful ways to incorporate technology as an efficient and effective tool for learning on her own blog, Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners, and on the ThingLink Blog. Email for resources, ideas and inspiring ways to use ThingLink across all content areas. Follow her on Twitter @soxnevad
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